20 June 2008

Cameroon: Kodock Woos State Anger

Former Minister and Secretary General of the UPC party, Augustin Frederic Kodock, has been tickling the wrath of the State by snubbing summons.

The former Minister has disregarded two summonses requiring his presence at the judicial police, Yaounde, for him to help in ongoing investigations in the embezzlement of public funds.

The State Counsel at the Mfoudi High Court, Justice Jean Fils Ntammark, summoned the former Minister in order to open preliminary inquiries on the matter last Monday, June 16.

According to the politician, it was the Secretary General at the Prime Minister's office, Jules

Doret Ndongo, who served him the summons at his Biyem-Assi residence.

The summons ordered Kodock to report at the State Counsel's office at 10 am on Tuesday, June 17. But Kodock scorned the summons and refused to appear before the State Counsel.

Speaking to journalists in Yaounde on Tuesday, Kodock said the summons was the climax of a smear campaign by his detractors.

He said he would not pay heed to the summons until the Head of State comes back to the country. After he was served the summons, he reportedly met the Vice Prime Minister in charge of Justice and Keeper of the Seals, Amadou Ali.

The content of his discussions with Amadou Ali, who champions the anti-corruption onslaught, was not disclosed to the press. But sources said Kodock complained bitterly that he was being prosecuted.

For one thing, Kodock's name features prominently in list of state personalities that government targeted for grilling on economic crimes.The Post learnt that Kodock is accused of embezzling huge sums of state money when he was the Minister of Agriculture in 2004. The menstruated records of Kodock's alleged embezzlement were exposed in 2006 when the Association for Defence of Citizens Collective Interests better known by its French acronym as ACDDIC, published results of a study it did in the Ministry of Agriculture.

The study was hinged on how funds were used in that Ministry in 2004 when Kodock was Minister. The study that ACDDIC's boss, Bernard Njonga, supervised exposed embezzlement rackets in that Ministry.

While presenting the report to Parliamentarians at Hotel des Deputes in November 2006, the authorities of the NGO said for every FCFA 100 that was earmarked for the enhancement of agriculture in 2004, only FCFA 5 finally went to the farmer.

Officials in the Ministry with the complicity of the Minister, the study claimed, lined their pockets with FCFA 95. The study also uncovered many ghost temporary workers who were heavily paid from the Ministry's budget. Corrupt officials paid the salaries of these ghost workers into their pockets.

But what actually tickled the bile of the state, The Post learnt, is that Kodock is alleged to have tampered even with funds from the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries, HIPC-I, at a time when Cameroon was still battling to reach the completion point.

It also remarked that promotions and appointments in the Ministry of Agriculture at the time were based on tribal and political considerations.After learning about the audit, Kodock organised a press conference in Yaounde during which he ran down its authors as detractors who were seeking to denigrate a great patriot.

He said the ACDDIC report ran counter to the audit of the Higher State Control that rather praised him for his judicious and transparent management of the budget when he was Minister of Agriculture.

In a thinly veiled statement, he accused his predecessor, Clobert Tchatat who is now the Minister of Urban Development of launching a smear campaign against him.Kodock said he is one of the rare Cameroonians who were educated by the government and has no reason to embezzle even one franc of state funds.

He had earlier refused to honour an invitation by the judicial police on the matter. He says he is scandalised his detractors want him to end up in prison for no good reason after serving the government for many years.

It is not known what move the authorities would take now following the politician's refusal to appear before the State Counsel. Sources from the Ministry of Justice say the state is bent on prosecuting the former Minister. His lawyer, Barrister Thomas Biyik, is said to be faulting the procedure through which his client was served the summons.

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